January 28, 2013

Nick Land on Moldbug.

More on diversity and progressivism, etc.

Why doesn’t Congress want power?

– Mapping economic classes in New York.

– You’re reading Radish, right?

– How much interest rate risk does the Fed have? Seems odd to have the guys controlling interest rates running such a large portfolio of assets with values that depend on such rates, but what could go wrong?

– Now where have I heard that before?

– Cheers to this Irish council.


January 24, 2013

– The new clerisy.

Immigration and Social Security (and unemployment).

– Paleo retiree on Jared Diamond.

He also asks, “How is that a few people who become parents continue to be fun and interesting nonetheless?” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too.

– On Ferdinand Bardamu.

– Devin on economic classes.

– Derb on the inaugural poem.

– “Big Five traits and IQs of various cultures statistically explained 70% of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.”

– I’m late to this, but it’s worth reading.

– It’s becoming increasingly obvious that economic interventions by the Fed are helping only the large banks (after the last round of QE, mortgage rates didn’t move, but big banks sure have gotten a lot of crappy mortgages off their books). As Arnold Kling notes, the bailout of AIG, “looks much more like a bailout of Goldman Sachs (and many other large banks, domestic and foreign), financed by the sale of some profitable AIG subsidiaries. From the vantage point of the central bank, that was good policy.” I’ve argued for a long time that the Fed is at least as concerned with the health of the largest institutions it regulates than with inflation or unemployment.

– Professor Caplan briefly takes a break from arguing that he likes immigration more than anyone else to argue that signaling ossifies behavior.

On orderly societies

January 24, 2013

Reading old books affords one the opportunity to (almost) travel in time and to (almost) experience an alternative reality. Who needs sci-fi, when you’ve got Google Books?

Here’s an interesting response to my thoughts on Rhodesia.

The title mischaracterizes the substance of our disagreement. I certainly make no claim that a color blind society is possible. However, I believe stability and “diversity” are not necessarily incompatible. I will, however, be the first to admit that diversity makes stability much much more difficult and that, when it comes to stability, diversity makes many core components of the modern ideal of “freedom” impossible.

Indeed, if I had to start a society from scratch and was tasked with making it as stable as possible, I would, much like the Yglesian-ideal, start with a population of Swedes, or at the very least (and perhaps largely redundantly), the population of Minneapolis.

Nevertheless, if you spend a fair amount of time reading old books, you can’t help but notice that certain societies – that have actually existed! – were quite diverse and much more orderly than our own. If you read first-hand accounts of foreigners in the Reconstruction era south, for example, you’ll notice that they constantly remark on the orderliness, industriousness, strong family life, and generally civil nature of the black population.

Rhodesia is another wonderful example, which I covered at length. The most salient point, however, bears repeating. Per capita, Rhodesia had one of the world’s lowest crime rates and smallest police forces, despite having a population made up mostly of sub-Saharan Africans.

Similar results were achieved in certain colonial societies.

These places existed. The lesson from them is not that a rainbow nation or a post-racial society is around the corner. However, their existence does mean that Detroit is not the only possible outcome for a diverse society.

Other people seem to have figured this out, as Sailer recently noted, “Look, you can whine about the hypocrisy of white liberals all you want, but you’d be better off studying their methods.” I’d suggest Ian Smith or Lord Cromer instead of white liberals, but the point holds.

If, like all good progressives, you refuse to acknowledge the existence of anything before 1968, you may still find it interesting to note that (again from Sailer), “The most striking feature of this map is relatively low rate of black imprisonment in the Old South.” It’s almost as if there’s something about progressivism that makes blacks especially violent.

My point was not to defend diversity, equality or mass immigration. My point is that we actually have lots of examples of quite orderly, diverse societies. We know what works and what doesn’t.

To use the progressives’ own favorite test, if you were behind the veil of ignorance, would you rather be born in Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe or P. W. Botha’s South Africa? (Feel free to come up with your own examples from other parts of the world).

I guess then, we have two disagreements. The first point on which we disagree is that Rhodesia had no chance. In some sense, that’s probably true. The forces of progressivism are strong. In another sense, it’s a immaterial disagreement. If you can’t defeat progressivism, then any opposition to a race-blind society is impossible. Zimbabwe is our inevitable future. Detriotification is our best hope in the meantime.

The second point of disagreement is here:

There is a class divide here, and I suspect it means the difference between the genteel, bemused race-realism of Foseti, Moldbug and Sailer and the white separatism or white nationalism of working class whites. As a working-class white, I don’t see the overall benefit to white people of the presence of non-whites. Affluent whites in the city can’t see the possibility of living without non-whites. Who would clean and cook, and watch the children of the wealthy? But believe it or not, white people can clean, cook, and watch children perfectly well. In Canada, the hotel maids are white. There are even white hotel maids in Montana. Sailer understands this intellectually if not emotionally, but Foseti and Moldbug don’t even seem to consider the possibility.

There may be some truth to this. However, well, see here for the full response. In short, if you’re in the working class, “whites” are not and will never be your ally.

The Thomas Carlyle Club for Young Reactionaries (Students Against a Democratic Society)

January 19, 2013

The first issue of the newsletter here (pdf).


January 17, 2013

– nydwracu on starting a reactionary webzine. Personally, I’d like to see something a little narrower. Dark Enlightenment only.

Moldbug on Aaron Swartz:

Autocratic and unaccountable power in the modern democracy has been dispersed, but not in any way dissolved. Sovereignty remains conserved. . . . The US Attorney’s office has also its little kings, no more accountable than Henry VII. Who took orders only from God, just like any “apolitical” “civil servant.” But at least there was only one Henry VII. . . .

The truth is that the weapons of “activism” are not weapons which the weak can use against the strong. They are weapons the strong can use against the weak. When the weak try to use them against the strong, the outcome is… well… suicidal. . . . “Civil disobedience” is no more than a way for the overdog to say to the underdog: I am so strong that you cannot enforce your “laws” upon me. I am strong and might makes right – I give you the law, not you me. . . .

Today, it is really the progressive activist who is closest to the essential truth of all political endeavor – the fact that Might makes Right.

– Sometimes, the official story is really bullshit.

– On Japan and Lee Kuan Yew.

– Isn’t the real problem here not so much eugenics in China but dysgenics in the West? Sort of weird to think that increasing human intelligence is a really big problem, no?

– A thought experiment, which goes nicely with some additional thoughts here.

– I think it would take measures like these to restrict gun ownership a way that didn’t make all non-criminals worse off. Does anyone think the US government could pull these sorts of things off?

Gold repatriation.


Review of “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James

January 17, 2013

A while back, I had drinks with one of this blog’s best commenters, and he strongly recommended this book (he also provided some thoughts, some of which I’ve taken).

The recommendation came with a set of warnings, which should be heeded. To put it bluntly, the book is quite horrible. I merely repeat the obvious by saying that the writing is poor (it’s not just not good, it’s prole, it’s juvenile, it’s absurd), the characters are unbelievable, etc. Consult a mainstream review for more on these obvious aspects of the book.

And yet . . .

There’s clearly something about the book. There’s tons of erotic fiction, but this sells very well. And, as much as I might be embarrassed to admit it, I was intrigued by the book. So, the question is: what is it about the book that pulls everyone in?

The obvious answer is the erotic scenes. But I don’t think that’s the right answer. They aren’t as good or as juicy as I’d been led to believe by what I’d heard about the book. See the quotes at the end here for a sample. Terrible.

I think the answer must be that the book takes the reader inside the mind of a woman. Not just any woman though. This woman appears to be entirely devoid of values of any kind (I don’t think this can be excused away by bad writing). She seems vaguely to want a “relationship” beyond the extremely physical, but she has absolutely no idea what this means in any practical sense. Is she, perhaps, the quintessential modern female?

The main character in the book is Anastasia Steele (apparently porn names aren’t taboo in the erotic fiction genre). The next two most important characters are her “subconscious” and her “inner goddess.” They often engage in conversation with each other. One “character” might be excited by a certain situation while the other is crying in the corner. It is their interaction that is impossible not to watch, like a car accident.

Their interaction creates one character (Ana) who is impossibly whimsical. The book goes on and on about her various concerns and emotions and thoughts. Then, suddenly, she makes some absurdly impulsive decision.

For a long time, I thought one of these characters might be her rationalization hamster. Eventually, you realize that she doesn’t have one – she’s fully modern in the sense that she’s progressed beyond the need to even rationalize her completely emotional, directionless decisions. The inner goddess wants to be whipped, the subconscious thinks maybe she should go on a real date first, and the body just does what it’s feeling at any given moment.

Behold, the modern woman fully unleashed!

Beyond these most interesting bits, it’s worth reflecting on some other aspects of the story.

In the story, Ana (who is in her early 20s) has never been attracted to anyone she has met. Until she meets Christian Grey. Her attraction to him is described as entirely uncontrollable, something she just can’t help. It definitely can’t be explained by his physical beauty, epic financial success, or generally mysterious demeanor. Here are some words she uses to describe him:

Confusing, confounding, mysterious, puzzling, elusive, threatening, “gives nothing away”, wicked, possessive, sphinxlike, riddle, dangerous, intimidating, “keeps changing direction”, “feel like I’m being interviewed for a job”, cryptic, controlling, dictatorial, overbearing, amused, bemused, “I have no idea what he’s thinking”, “laughing at me”, entertained, high-handed, antagonizing, difficult, complicated, pompous ass, secretive, unreadable, telepathic, spooky, dark knight, irreconcilable, intense, confident, teasing, frustrating, unfathomable, alien, playful, smirking, “not a man I want to cross”, aloof, distant, masked, distracting, all-consuming, “I am plagued with questions”, surprising, unpredictable, “claiming me”, menacing, etc.

The feminist sites seem to think this “emotional connection” is what makes the book so irresistible to women. How lame and predictable is that connection though?

We live in the age of universal democracy. The masses have spoken, and they love this stuff.


January 10, 2013

– An attempt to briefly summarize Moldbuggery (HT: moldbuggery).

– A prayer for Lawrence Auster.

Thoughts on The Bow of Ulysses.

Thoughts on The Education of Lev Navrozov:

There are indeed “plenty of problems with our government”, and likely a downhill trajectory. If at crunch time, the only people with a plan are megacriminals and losers like Ulyanov-Lenin, shall we not have failed to learn from history?

– Tom Wolfe on the neutering of Sherman McCoy: “It was all up to us and our nerves and our willingness to hang it over the edge of the Halusian Gulp and take the big risks—now! on the spot!—we, our very selves!—and not hand our masculinity over to robo-monsters dueling over electrical impulses so fast, we haven’t a clue as to what they’re doing, let alone how they’re doing.”

– Progessive policies require more progressivism, for example:

Average academic achievement has not changed much over the years. We have good, representative national results for the last 40 years (NAEP); not much change. We have some regional results (Iowa, mainly) that go back further: not much change.

Within every ethnic group, there has been some improvement, but nationally, that has been canceled out by increases in the fraction of students from low-scoring groups. This is unevenly distributed. For example, in California: scores are a lot lower than they were in 1965 because the kids are demographically quite different – i.e. dumber.

In other words, immigration makes the population dumber and this is argument for giving more money to schools.

– How many people really work for the private sector?

Super formal Fridays.

– On extraverts:

Once a highly extraverted friend of mine was trying to get me involved in some project and said, cheerily, “You’ll get to meet lots of new people!” I turned to him and replied, “You realize, don’t you, that you’ve just ensured my refusal to participate?”

– On Dreher on A Derb-ish topic.

– New York’s stop and frisk declared illegal.